Youth unemployment remains threat to our security, peace – Minister of Youth


August 30, 2018

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

The high table had the Minister of Youth (centre) and other dignitaries

Minister of Youth Affairs Mohamed Orman Bangura has stated that youth unemployment was alarming and remains a huge threat to the nation’s security and peace.

The minister was yesterday speaking at the National Youth Commission (NAYCOM) in Freetown during the 2018 Graduate Internship Programme (GIP) orientation training for 200 graduates.

The training is implemented by the National Youth Commission with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

As part of its mandate to promote youth potentials, creativity and skills for national development, NAYCOM, with support from UNDP, is implementing the GIP for young people who have completed university education.

GIP is geared towards bolstering employability of young university graduates through a four-month structured internship within the private, public and development sectors.

The minister started off his statement by encouraging the 2018 GIP to take the four months internship programme very seriously, especially as they would be receiving handsome amount as monthly stipend, adding that he received the paltry sum of Le250,000 as monthly stipend when doing his internship at a certain bank.

He admonished that as young people, the graduate interns should start thinking positively and see themselves as productive Sierra Leoneans and stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

Bangura said the interns should count themselves very lucky because over a thousand graduates applied for the scheme, but only 200 were selected.

He called on them to be willing and ready to learn during their stay in the various places they will be doing their internship across the country.

He noted that among the things affecting young Sierra Leoneans are the lack of respect for time and authority, adding that many young people leave office before their bosses, adding that young people should have passion to succeed.

The minister recalled that during the State Opening of Parliament President Maada Bio stated that he was committed to empowering young people of the nation, adding that they were working towards that direction and that the GIP was one huge platform for youth empowerment.

Earlier, in his welcome statement, National Youth Commissioner Thomas Ngolo Katta said the commission, with technical support from the UNDP, started the GIP in 2012 with view to promoting decent employment opportunities for Sierra Leonean graduates.

He said the programme, which was successfully piloted in 2012, facilitated opportunities for young people from tertiary education institutions wishing to acquire productive work experience.

Katta said this year’s programme would build on successes of the past five years where young graduates from various tertiary institutions across the country gained valuable experiences in the real world of work, leading to some youth even gaining permanent employment after their internship.

He narrated that the GIP sought to target the rising number of youth who have graduated from universities, polytechnics and colleges but can’t fine job, adding that NAYCOM was working on multiple strategies to address all segment of youth problems.

He disclosed that they also have the African Development Fund Youth Entrepreneurship and empowerment project that provides skills training, career guidance for job readiness, graduate entrepreneurship programme and other institutional development support, adding that rural youth are targeted through agri-business projects.

The youth commissioner said the GIP was aimed at bolstering employability of young university graduates, inspired by three operational principles – increasing the number of young people benefiting from productive internship opportunities nationwide, increasing the overall quality of the internship experience so as to actually contribute to the employability of the intern, and the maximisation of both social and private return of the initiative.

Speaking on behalf of Career Advisory and Placement Service (CAPS), Vice Chancellor and Principal of the Ernest Koroma University of Science and Technology, Professor Edwin J.J. Momoh, said the GIP was about preparing graduate for the world of work.

He said CAPS was one of the initiatives designed by UNDP to tackle the huge youth unemployment and under-employment problem, adding that the initiative was geared towards increasing the potentials of students to acquire jobs in their study-related areas and become high-performing employees.

He disclosed that in 2009 discussions were held on how to enhance youth empowerment in the country and that NAYCOM and UNDP started work on the scheme, while GIP was established in 2011.

He noted that most students gained admission into the university without knowing what they actually wanted to become in future, adding that the establishment of CAPS in universities across the country helps them to choose a career. Further, they need to figure out their subject of interest and then search for the relevant colleges or schools. For example, if a student wants to enroll in a course related to optometry, he/she needs to take guidance from “best optometry schools“, while CAPS authorities can help in getting admission to a prestigious university.

He called on graduates to not sit and wait for the GIP, but start going out to volunteer and that by doing so they will have working experience and prepare themselves to work in any office.

Presenting an overview of the GIP, Youth Empowerment Officer at the NAYCOM, Manso Bangura, said since its inception in 2012 to date some 4,871 graduates have applied for the internship.

He said they have trained 2,173 graduates in requisite skills or competence such as critical thinking and problem solving, team work, developing CVs, applying ethical principles in supervision, monitoring and leadership, building relationship, interacting, work effectiveness and professional ethnics needed in today’s economic and society.